Lanscaping websites - please help

adamarkMarch 7, 2011

I'm planning to do my backyard this year. I really would like to design it myself. I would like to have an area for a hot tub and an area for outdoor kitchen/eating/sitting and a fire pit. All of the construction would have to be done by contractors but I would do all the planting. I'm googling and googling and can not find any good site. Also, I know, there are software for landscaping, what would you guys recommend? I'm new to this site, I'm mostly a gardener and wintersower, so, I'll have a lot of plant/flowers to plant.

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As great as the Internet is, sometimes it is just not good enough. And IMO, this is one of those times. Learning the design process and all it entails is not a real simple, read-through-a-website kind of operation. It does take some time, some studying and a step-by-step approach. The best website I have found to help you with this is the one linked below. Most of the rest I have encountered don't even come close to providing the information you need.

Personally, I think a book you can refer to as needed can provide better and more thorough direction. And there are some excellent, pretty detailed (yet not overly technical)texts avalable for the homeowner or DIY designer. One that I think is especially helpful is Better Homes and Gardens Complete Guide to Home Landscaping. You should be able to find this in the book and magazine section of Home Depot or Lowe's. Or online. It will take you through the process of prioritizing and developing your landscape requirements or inventory, measuring your property and developing a base map, evaluating and analyzing site conditions, an understanding of basic design principles, developing conceptual plans and finally generating a finished plan. Plus there are sections on plant selection, drainage, hardscaping, irrigation, lighting -- all the same issues a professional designer would consider and assess.

Landscape software can be helpful in visualizing what you are working with but it is not a substitute for the design process. It is only a tool, much like a pencil and paper or camera, and you still have to go through the process to generate a satisfactory end result.

Here is a link that might be useful: UMN's SULIS design process

    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 4:59PM
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I would have to agree with the previous post... it does take some time to really grasp everything but...

You can do it! Take it one step at a time. Divide your backyard into sections and design one section at a time.

I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 10:56PM
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Thank you both. I have a lot of questions. But for now, I've realized, this is a big job. At laest for the hardscaping - hot tubs, outside kitchen, patios, pergolas -so, I need a professional. Afterall, I'll need plans for the permit. Tomorrow, I'm meeting an architect. But planting, that will be fun...and, I'll keep you posted.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 3:38AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Yes, your answer is in books, not the internet. This is because to write a book, someone has had to put the information together in an organized way. The internet is full of little bits of information that you have to file in sequence, and if you don't know the topic, it's hard to do that.

Some basic advice: first, and funnily enough, after you determine how much and what kind of planting area you want, forget about plants. Think about pathways, views, utility, and where you will want to be and walk in the yard. Think about summer and winter, and about looking at the yard from the house as well as being in the yard.

Walk the yard. Take a plastic chair with you and put it down in various places and sit down and look around you. Consider topography and the physical abilities of the people who will visit - the elderly, children. Consider safety.

Think about plants in general terms - their shape, their benefits, their growth rate, their needs - but not as individual plants for now at all. At the end, you get to figure out which plant goes where.

Trundle around this forum a bit, do a few searches for terms such as "where do I start," "blank slate," or "newbie" and others, and you will find oodles of good information that has been dispensed.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 1:11PM
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